Pablo Picasso was an absinthe drinker and his favorite bar to get inspired was located at Els Quatre Gats (Gothic Quarter of Barcelona).

The story of Els Quatre Gats bar worths a Moulin Rouge spin-off. This centenary bar located at Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter was inaugurated on June 14, 1897. A time of many changes: Catalan modernism was emerging, Impressionism happened under The Starry Night of Europe and Paris became the most bohemian city in the world. Those were the times of absinthe, a hard drink made with the essence of absinthe and other aromatic herbs with hallucinogenic effects. Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Baudelaire or Rimbaud drank it to get inspired. Barcelona, ​​which has always had a Parisian touch, also enjoyed the benefits of the Green Fairy. And in this context, wandering Gothic Quarter’ s streets, there is Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) in search of a shot.

Els Quatre Gats en Barcelona.
Els Quatre Gats bar in Barcelona.


The absinthe drinkers

Picasso began to visit Els Quatre Gats bar when he was 17. He did it encouraged by Ángel Fernández de Soto, known as the cranky friend. He was regular client and a bon vivant. In fact, Picasso portrayed him in The Absinthe Drinker. The painter was through his Blue Period, the color that defined his sadness after the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas.

Ángel Fernández de Soto encouraged him to visit the bars and brothels of Barcelona and in one of these raids, Picasso found an oasis to be inspired and, above all, a place that appreciated his peculiar style.

Els Quatre Gats bar smelled like art. Although it was run by Pere Romeu, former waiter of Paris Le Chat Noir, Impressionist painter Ramón Casas and Manuel Girona were the main investors. By the way, it was Ramón Casas who painted this tandem on the walls of the bar, becoming one of the most symbolic elements.

els quatre gats
The absinthe drinker’ byPablo Ruiz Picasso (1903).


Els Quatre Gats bar

Els Quatre Gats bar was in a building designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch. It quickly became the meeting point for Catalan artists and Bohemians. It was not uncommon to see Enric Granados, Isaac Albéniz or Santiago Rusiñol among their customers. They organized concerts, gatherings, literary debates, exhibitions and shadow puppet theater.

Pablo Picasso made his first exhibition at Els Quatre Gats in the year 1900 and also designed the entrance sign and the menu. Three years later, Pere Romeu closed down his emblematic bar drowned by debts. It would take almost seventy years to resurrect. Although its time as promoter of Catalan modernism is over, still retains the original decoration and its walls are full of drawings and photographs that echo that golden past.

els quatre gats
PabloPicasso designs, a gift to Els Quatre Gats.